Songwriting jazz crooner Barbara Jean once again delivers her own brand of whimsically silly to profoundly heartfelt tunes in “Cool”, her second eclectic collection of original songs.
The CD features band members she’s worked with both on stage and in the studio over the past years, as well as the noteworthy addition of Dave Schiavone on sax and flute. Translating her written music into fluent straight-ahead jazz is her returning bevy of Buffalo boys; Michael T. Jones at the piano, Cameron Kayne on bass and Carmen Intorre on drums (he’s from Buffalo originally but now lives in NYC). Special guests on this disc include pedal steel player ,Ken Petersen, Barbara’s husband, Steve Strickland on piano and their son, Tim, making his vocal debut.
“Again I have been so blessed to be working with such talented musicians. The studio experience with these guys is so comfortable and mellow, but with so much creative energy... it’s hard to describe. There’s laughing and silliness and then the count and Bam! Everyone’s in the zone. It really is magic.”
Something new for this recording is the inclusion of two duets with son, Tim - “My Love” and “There For Me”. “Singing on those two tracks was totally Tim’s idea. Of course I was thrilled! He’s a budding songwriter in his own right and to preserve this moment in time on the CD together, well, it’s really special.”
Although Barbara’s been singing jazz and traditional pop since 2000, her first real recording project came in 1997 as the bass player/back-up singer in the original country-rock group, Gotham Rose, which included both Ken Petersen and husband, Steve. The group opened up for heavy-hitting country acts that included Toby Keith, George Jones, Patty Loveless, Diamond Rio and Trace Adkins and their self-titled disc received airplay in more than eleven European countries over a three year period.since 2000in 1997
But Barbara’s heart has always belonged to the great melodies penned by composers the likes of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington. “I grew up surrounded by music. Mom was a cellist, my sister still is a pianist. Everyone sang. The radio was always on.”
Tapping into the local talent with groups such as The Harold Olson Orchestra, Razz and Friends, Jazz Train and Satin Doll, Barbara has made great friends both on the bandstand and in the audience. In 2008 she recorded her own songs in her debut CD “Sweet”. “That was such a milestone for me. I had been a musician in rock bands, country bands, top-40 bands...‘Sweet’ gave me a chance to share my personal relationship with the music that shows up in my head. It’s usually pretty uncomplicated, up-lifting, quirky - nothing too melodramatic or heavy. Even when I’m choosing songs to perform in my shows I definitely head straight for the positive love songs - the ones that make you feel better, happy, content. There are many beautiful melodies that sport some pretty sad and disheartening lyrics. I shy away from those; not because they’re not masterpieces (they are) but because I’m happier spending my evenings singing songs with up-beat lyrics.”
“Cool” is definitely up-beat, opening with a traditional swing, “What Now?”, a light-hearted lament for anyone whose ever been faced with a new chapter in life. Following this is a delicious ballad, “Yours Forevermore” which sax player Schiavone plays as though he’s been intimately familiar with it all his life.
Title track “Cool” is a tongue-in-cheek self-assessment of the process of evolving from dork to something a little less dork-like - “Autobiographical”, says Barbara.
Ironically, the CD “Cool” is anything but chilly, indifferent or pseudo-sophisticated. Instead, this collection is decidedly warm with Barbara giving us what we’ve come to expect from her - a mostly mellow musical meandering through the labyrinth of life, lit with the limitless lamp of Love.
Recent jazz festival performances in Erie, Pennsylvania and Lewiston, New York have brought Barbara's music to a whole new audience and have established her as one of her area's most original, sought-after live performers in the jazz tradition of the great singers of the Forties, with simple honesty and an inherent respect for melody. Lewiston the Forties, with simple honesty and an inherent respect for melody.